Domain vs Subdomain [Ultimate Guide for 2024]


There are so many complicated terms related to websites that one can easily get confused by all the similar-sounding words.

In this article, we will discuss the terms domain vs subdomain in detail, covering:

  • what they are
  • what you can use them for
  • their prices
  • advantages of both

By the end, you’ll know exactly which one you need for your business and website!

What Is a Domain?

Let’s first understand what a website domain is. A domain is a unique identifier for a website and the way users across the world can access it. It can basically be explained as your website’s address. For example, the domain for Google is “”. When you type this into your web browser, you will be taken to Google’s homepage. Domain names are different from standard URLs that lead to any one of the pages of the website including the home page and even the microsite pages.

To understand the domain meaning better, let’s look at how people accessed different websites before the introduction of domains. Earlier, users had to write complex IP addresses to access a website. So, if you had to access Google, you had to type, which is the IP address. Each website has a unique IP address provided by the internet service providers. A domain name makes it easier for people to remember websites and access them through server-destination.

A complete domain structure has a host name such as “www”, website name, and finally, a TLD like .com, .gov., etc. Most regular domains follow this format.


Before we understand the difference between domain and subdomain, let’s look at the different types of domains.

Root Domain

It is the main or primary domain of your website and can have one or more subdomains. Subdomains cannot exist without the root domain, but a root domain can exist independently. It is also known as the apex domain because it is at the apex and all the subdomains come below it or are dependent on it.

Bare Domain

A bare domain is a domain that doesn’t have “www” at the beginning. For example, “” is a bare domain, while “” is not. People buy this type of domain only for aesthetic value as they look more pleasing to the eye. Besides, who even writes “www” when searching for a website nowadays?

DID YOU KNOW: A domain name plays a very important role as it helps people identify your website. Make sure you choose the right domain name for your business.

What Is a Subdomain?

Subdomains are unique URLs that operate on the main purchased domain. A subdomain can be used to identify a certain section or category of a website. Subdomains are second-level domain names that can be up to 63 characters long. They are indicated by a section to the left of the root URL. For example, on Google, the “news” section has its own subdomain: “”.

Subdomains are completely different from subdirectories. A subdomain is a separate website that has its own domain name. For example, “” is a subdomain of “”. A subdirectory is a folder on a website that has its own URL. For example, “” is a subdirectory of “” that takes people to the blog section.

Domain vs Subdomain

Now that you understand both terms, let’s take a look at the differences between the two:


Usage will depend on your website’s goals. Regardless, you should definitely create a domain as it is the main address of your website while creating a subdomain is optional. If you want to create a separate section or category on your website, then you should use a subdomain. For example, as we mentioned earlier, Google’s “news” section has its own subdomain: “”. Many people also use subdomains for different language versions of their website or for the mobile version.


The next point in our comparison of subdomain vs domain is the price. You have to purchase your domain name from a website host. Many also ask for a monthly or yearly payment to keep your domain name active and registered. If you fail to make payments, your website may stop working.

Subdomains, on the other hand, are entirely free. You can create as many subdomains as you like as they’re part of your main website.

DID YOU KNOW: WordPress is a popular free website builder. If you’re making a website, make sure to choose only the best hosting for WordPress as you don’t want any complications down the line.

Key Takeaways

A domain is essentially the address of your website on the internet. It consists of your brand’s or business’s name.
A subdomain operates within the main domain and is used to identify a certain section of the website.
While creating subdomains is optional, you should definitely create a domain as it’s the main address of your website.
Another difference is that you have to pay to buy a domain whereas creating subdomains is free as it’s done within the purchased domain.

Advantages of Domains and Subdomains

To understand the differences further, let’s take a look at the different advantages of using both for your website.


The advantages of domains are as follows:

  • Controls Your Brand

If you don’t purchase a domain name with your business name, someone else might purchase it and take control of your brand. Popular websites like Google or Facebook have bought domain names with several domain extensions to ensure that their brand reputation remains intact and they have complete control over their brand name.

  • Adds Credibility to Your Business

This is an advantage that applies to both a domain and a subdomain. A website with your business’s name adds credibility to your brand and gains customers’ trust. Having a domain name assures customers that your business is trustworthy and legit.

  • Increases SEO

A domain name can play a key role in making your site rank high on search engines. This is because having a keyword in your domain name can help your website rank higher in search results. Of course, there are other factors like the placement of keywords and marketing that impact your brand’s SEO, but a domain name is a good place to start.

DID YOU KNOW: You can sell your domain name if you no longer want it, but it’s important you determine how much your domain is worth to get the right price.


Subdomains have advantages too:

  • Targets Specific Audience

It’s important to understand what is a domain and a subdomain in order to ensure that your audience can find you easily. A subdomain can be used to target a specific audience or market. For example, if you have a website about cars, you could create a subdomain for car reviews. This would make it easier for people who are looking for car reviews to find your website.

  • Allows You to Test New Content

A subdomain can be a great way to test out new content or ideas on your website. This is because a subdomain is like a separate website, so even if your idea has technical limitations, it won’t affect your main website.

  • Helps with SEO

Both subdomain and domain can help you get rankings when used in the right way. A subdomain is like a separate website, and you can optimize each subdomain for specific keywords. You can add inbound links to your main website to increase traffic as well.


It can be quite confusing to know what is best for your website, especially when there are so many options to choose from. If you want your website to stand out from the rest, then just use a regular domain with your business name.

However, if you want to create a separate section or category on your website, then use a subdomain. Both have their advantages, so whichever option you choose, make sure that it’s aligned with your website’s goals.


How to buy a domain name?

You can purchase a domain name from a domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company that sells domain names. Make sure to choose one of the best domain registrars like GoDaddy, Namecheap, or Hover.

How much does a domain name cost?

Domain names typically cost around $15 per year. However, the price can vary depending on the domain registrar and the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.). You can also create your own email domain for free.

What does subdomain mean?

A subdomain is part of a larger domain. It can be used to create a separate section or category on your website. For example, “” is a subdomain of the root domain “”. This is the main difference between domain vs subdomain.

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